Controlling Mobs

Mob attacks are feared for all the right reasons. A charge crowd spares nothing and feels entitled to take the law into its hands, and these are many incidents that should worry us all, especially law enforcement departments. Any gathered mob is a test of local police in the first instance, and it requires specified training to handle such a furious mob. In a positive turn of events, Sargodha police were able to disperse such a crowd that was ready to attack two Christian families in Mujahid colony.

How the mob started gathering and how the police was able to control it are the details that are still awaited and Punjab’s Home Affairs Secretary has been put in charge to find out more about the incident. As per initial reports, the police did a good job and forcibly stepped in to cool down the situation. We need to see more of this confidence in similar cases of mob vigilantism. In Lahore, ASP Shehrbano was lauded by the whole nation for saving a woman’s life from an angry crowd.

If police actively take control of such situations and make full use of the means at their disposal, the stereotype that police only stand and watch silently will be replaced by more respect for the department. Mob mentality is an unfortunate reality and not far away, in neighbouring India, this form of extremism has been normalised in certain provinces, like Uttar Pradesh. There the targets of mob violence are Muslims. Pakistan must do everything to prevent any such precedence from taking root in our country.

If the police keep on demonstrating and asserting its power over such situations, people will be deterred to resort to mob culture. What happened in Sargodha is a far cry from incidents of the past where the police stood aside and let the mob have its way. The comments made by the officials after the incident were also strong, and exactly what was needed – emphasizing the state’s responsibility for protecting all and rejecting vigilantism.

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